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Incidental environmental news

by Stephen Kaye
Mon Dec 12th, 2016

On November 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), at COP 22 (Conference of the Parties), reported that the past five years have been the hottest on record; each year was worse then the preceding one.  Arctic Ice is some 30% below the preceding norm.  Current global warming already is perilously close to the final goal that COP21 hoped to achieve. Melting of the huge Antarctic glaciers, proceeding more rapidly than anticipated, threatens a rise in sea level. Tens of millions could be inundated in the low-lying plains of Bangladesh.

COP22 announced the start-up of the first US offshore wind farm at Block Island.  

On Dec. 7 WMO reported that average Arctic sea ice for November was the lowest on the satellite record, reflecting unusually high air temperatures, winds from the south, and a warm ocean. Antarctic sea ice extent declined in November, setting a record low for the month – in marked contrast to recent years. For the globe as a whole, sea ice cover was exceptionally low, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). (Sea ice reflects the sun and helps to maintain ocean temperature. Increasing ocean surface increases the warming of the oceans.) Global CO2 levels reached 400 ppm and will be unlikely to be less than that level for many generations to come. 

In November 2016, Arctic sea ice extent averaged 9.08 million square kilometers (3.51 million square miles). This is 800,000 square kilometers (309,000 square miles) below the previous record low in November 2006 – about the size of France and the United Kingdom combined.